Week 12 brings the final Sunday of the season with byes, as Pittsburgh and Carolina get to rest. Most NFL fans can take their bye on Thursday Night Football, which features the winless Raiders hosting the surging Chiefs.
Fortunately, there are better games on tap for the weekend. On Sunday morning, the Lions travel to New England which should provide a barometer for the relative strengths of the two conferences. In the afternoon, Arizona visits Seattle with a chance to make a statement in the NFC West. Finally, on Monday Night Football, the Saints host Baltimore with both teams in need of victories.
Let’s look at the full slate and the early odds for each game.
Kansas City (7-3) at Oakland (0-10) – Spread: Chiefs -7.5
In week 12, the Chiefs and Raiders will meet for the first of two clashes in a four week span. Kansas City has won two straight road games and played well in all five of their contests away from home. The Chiefs are 3-2 on the road and 4-1 against the spread. Four of the Chiefs’ five road games have gone under. Oakland has played poorly at home. The Raiders are 1-4 against the spread in the Bay Area and, most recently, got stomped by the Broncos 41-17 in week 10. Kansas City won both games against the Raiders convincingly last season. Last weekend, K.C. beat the defending champs, Seattle (24-20), while Oakland played San Diego close but ultimately lost again (13-6).
Cleveland (6-4) at Atlanta (4-6) – Spread: Falcons -3.5
The Browns are on the road for the first time since crushing Cincinnati 24-3 in week 10. Cleveland is 2-2 away from home and 2-1-1 against the spread. Besides a slip up in Jacksonville during week 7, Cleveland has played well on the road. They lost at Pittsburgh 30-27 on opening day, beat Tennessee 29-28 in week 5, fell to the Jags, and dominated the Bengals. The Falcons are in Atlanta for the first time since losing to Chicago 27-13 in week 6. Their last “home” game was a 22-21 setback against Detroit in London. Atlanta began the year with home wins over New Orleans and Tampa Bay, but haven’t beaten Cleveland at home since 1993. Heading into last week, the Browns were on top of the AFC North and the Falcons were third in the NFC South. Now they have switched, as the Falcons head the laughing-stock of the NFL, while the Browns loss to Houston bumped them to last in the gruelling AFC North.
Tennessee (2-8) at Philadelphia (7-3) – Spread: Eagles -11
In week 11, the Titans blew a double-digit fourth quarter lead at home to the Steelers on Monday night. Now, they have a short week to prepare for a road game in Philly. Tennessee is 1-4 on the road and 2-3 against the spread with four unders and one over. The Titans fell at Baltimore 21-7 in week 10 and dropped a 19-17 decision at Washington in week 7. They opened the year with a road win at Kansas City – but that seems an eternity ago now. The Eagles have been terrific at home. Philadelphia is 5-0 in front of their fans and 4-1 against the spread. Philly led right from the get go in a 45-21 win over Carolina in week 10 and shutout the Giants at home 27-0 in week 6. They will be looking to rebound from a bad loss at Green Bay in week 11. Tennessee has won four straight against the Eagles dating back to 1994.
Detroit (7-3) at New England (8-2) – Spread: Patriots -6
The Lions are on the road for a second straight week and, for a second straight week, they face a conference leader. In week 11, the Lions fell in Arizona to the NFC-leading Cardinals (14-6). They played the Cards tough, especially on D, but couldn’t cover as three-point road ‘dogs. Now they face the AFC-leading Patriots in Massachusetts. The Lions will be rewarded for their tough road schedule with three straight home games starting in week 13.
This is the only home game for the Patriots during a five week span. New England is 5-0 at home and 3-2 against the spread. The Pats are 2-0 thus far against the NFC North with a 30-7 road win at Minnesota, and a 51-23 destruction of the Bears at home. Next week, New England travels to Green Bay to face the equally hot Packers. In week 11, the Pats demolished the Colts (42-20) and the spread.
The only time Detroit has played at Foxborough in the last 20 years, they were doomed by three Jon Kitna interceptions back in 2006.
Green Bay (7-3) at Minnesota (4-6) – Spread: Packers -10.5
For the first time in a month, the Packers are on the road. While the Packers dominate at Lambeau, they are 2-3 straight-up and against the number away from home. The Packers fell at New Orleans (44-23) in week 8 and needed a last second score to beat Miami in Florida (27-24) in week 6. They also crushed the Bears in Chicago, but dropped road games at Seattle and Detroit. This year, the Vikings are playing home games outdoors for the first time in three decades and they are 2-2 so far. They beat Washington 29-26 in week 9, lost to the Lions 17-3 in week 6, knocked off Atlanta 41-28 in week 4, and fell to the Patriots 30-7 in week 2.
These teams already met once this season back in week 6. In that game, the Packers scored the first 42 points en route to a 42-10 win at Lambeau Field. That win continued the recent trend of Green Bay-dominance; the Packers have lost just one of their last ten meetings with the Vikings.
Jacksonville (1-9) at Indianapolis (6-4) – Spread: Colts -14
The first time these teams met this year, the Colts led 30-0 at halftime and cruised to a 44-17 victory. Indy has won four straight in the series by an average margin of 20 points. After losing badly to the Pats in week 11 (42-20), the Colts are 3-2 at home straight-up and against the spread. Jacksonville is 0-5 on the road and 1-3-1 against the number. Their only competitive road game was a 16-14 loss at Tennessee in week 6. They lost at Cincinnati 33-23 during their last road trip in week 9. The Jags will be coming off of a week 11 bye, but don’t expect any miracles.
Cincinnati (6-3-1) at Houston (5-5) – Spread: Texans -1.5
This is the second of three straight road games for the Bengals after beating New Orleans 27-10 last week (and demolishing the spread as road ‘dogs). Houston has won four straight meetings with Cincinnati including a 19-13 Wild Card game victory in 2012. Cincinnati’s only win in Houston came in their first-ever clash in 2002. The Texans are 2-2 straight-up and against the spread at home. They’ve lost two straight in front of their fans, falling to Philadelphia 31-21 in week 9 and dropping a 33-28 decision against Indianapolis in week 6. Early in the year, the Texans beat Washington and Buffalo at home. The Bengals are 2-2 on the road with a win over Baltimore and losses to Indy and New England. Houston kept their playoff hopes burning last week with a 24-7 win over the Browns in Cleveland; in his first career start, QB Ryan Mallett proved adequate, going 20 of 30 for 211 yards, two touchdowns, and one pick. But really, it was the Texans defense that beat the Browns.
New York Jets (2-8) at Buffalo (5-5) – Spread: Bills -4
Almost exactly a month after the Bills trounced New York 42-23 at MetLife Stadium, the teams meet in western New York. In the first matchup, Buffalo got four touchdown passes from Kyle Orton and forced six turnovers. The Jets are 0-4 on the road and 1-2-1 against the spread. New York was blown out at San Diego and Kansas City, but played competitive games in Green Bay and New England. The Jets are coming off of a bye, which usually spells success, but Rex Ryan is just 1-4 after regular season byes as the Jets’ coach. Buffalo is 2-3 at home and 1-4 against the spread. The Bills have home wins over Miami and Minnesota, and losses to San Diego, New England, and Kansas City. Last week, they came out flat in the biggest game of the year, getting trounced 22-9 on the road by division rival Miami.
Tampa Bay (2-8) at Chicago (4-6) – Spread: Bears -6
For a second straight week, the Bucs are on the road and Chicago is at home. Tampa Bay has done a solid job for bettors when away from home – if not for their fans. The Bucs are 4-1 ATS on the road, and 2-3 straight-up following Sunday’s win in Washington. The Bears have been a disaster at home, with an 1-3 record both straight-up and against the spread in the Windy City. Chicago covered against Minnesota in the snow last weekend. The last two meetings in Chicago between these teams both went to overtime. The Bucs won 27-24 in 2008, and Chicago prevailed 34-31 in 2006.
Miami (6-4) at Denver (7-3) – Spread: Broncos -8
After beating the Bills on Thursday in week 11, the Dolphins will have a bit of extra time to prepare for their first of two straight road games. Miami is 3-2 on the road straight-up and against the spread this year. The Dolphins could easily have won and covered as three-point ‘dogs against Detroit in week 9, but gave up a touchdown in the final minute and fell 20-16. Miami beat the Bears and Jags away from home in weeks 7 and 8. The Broncos are 5-0 at home and 3-2 against the number. Denver’s last three home games were a 41-20 win over Arizona, a 42-17 blowout of San Francisco, and a 35-21 victory against San Diego. Miami has won three of their last four showdowns in Denver, but haven’t played at Mile High since Peyton Manning took the reins.
After looking like a lock for a playoff bye earlier in the year, the Broncos are now in a dog-fight for their own division. That change is due, in part, to the Broncos slipping up against the Rams in week 11 and, in part, to the Chiefs playing lights-out football.
Arizona (9-1) at Seattle (6-4) – Spread: Seahawks -6
The Cardinals are on the road for the first time since Carson Palmer was lost for the season. While Arizona is 3-1 ATS on the road this year, QB Drew Stanton is 1-1 in two road starts and failed to throw a touchdown in either. These teams have split their last ten meetings with both sides winning on the road last year. Seattle is 4-1 at home this season and 19-2 since 2012. The Seahawks are 3-2 against the spread at home on the season and 15-6 over the last three years. Seattle has wins at home over Green Bay, Denver, Oakland, and the Giants, and a loss to the Cowboys. After a loss to the Chiefs in week 11, the Seahawks need a win to stay in the Wild Card hunt. Even with a loss, the Cardinals would remain on top of the NFC.
St. Louis (4-6) at San Diego (6-4) – Spread: Chargers -5.5
The Rams are 2-3 on the road this year, and are playing their fourth road game in five weeks. After getting dominated by the Chiefs 34-7 in week 8, St. Louis beat San Francisco 13-10 in week 9, and then fell at Arizona 31-14 in week 10. The Rams also won at Tampa Bay early in the year and lost a tight game at Philadelphia in week 5. Jeff Fisher’s squad is 2-3 straight-up and against the spread on the road. They come into this week riding high, having demolished Manning and the Broncos in week 11 (22-7). This is the second straight home game for the Chargers following a week 10 bye. San Diego got by the Raiders 13-6 in week 11, but it wasn’t the bounce-back game the once 5-1 Chargers were looking for. The Rams are 3-1 against San Diego since the start of the 2000 season.
Washington (3-7) at San Francisco (6-4) – Spread: Niners -9
The Redskins have been better on the road than many realize. They are just 1-4 straight-up and 2-3 against the spread, but their last two games have been promising. In week 9, the Skins lost at Minnesota 29-26, and in week 8, they beat Dallas in overtime 20-17. Washington trailed Arizona 23-20 in the final minute during week 6, but lost 30-20 and failed to cover. Though Washington’s last game was not a favorable portent: the Redskins were crushed at home by the one-win Buccaneers, and RGIII did not look like himself. The Niners are 2-2 straight-up and against the number at home. They lost to the Rams 13-10 in week 9 and fell to Chicago 28-20 in week 2, despite leading 20-7 after three quarters. San Francisco beat the Eagles and Chiefs at home in one score games. The 49ers have won three in a row against Washington.
Dallas (7-3) at New York Giants (3-7) – Spread: Cowboys -3.5
After a week 11 bye, the Cowboys are on the road, where they are a perfect 4-0 this season both straight-up and ATS. Dallas has wins at Tennessee, St. Louis, Seattle, and Jacksonville – though the lattermost took place in London. Jason Garrett is 1-2 after bye weeks with Dallas, but did knock off the Giants 24-21 last year. This is the second straight home game for the Giants, who stretched their losing streak to five last week against the Niners (16-10). This is the second meeting of the year for these teams; New York fell at Dallas 31-21 in week 7. Tony Romo and Eli Manning each threw three touchdowns in the first matchup, but the Cowboys out gained New York 156-104 on the ground and forced two Giant turnovers.
Baltimore (6-4) at New Orleans (4-6) – Spread: Saints -3.5
The Ravens are on the road for the first time since losing back-to-back division games against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. Baltimore got off to a strong 2-1 start on the road this year, winning at Cleveland in week 3, losing at Indianapolis in week 5, and blitzing the Bucs in week 6. After the losses to Cincy and Pittsburgh, the Ravens are 2-3 on the road and 1-3-1 against the spread. This is the third straight home game for New Orleans. The Saints likely saw this home stretch as their path to victory in the woeful NFC South. But they are 0-2 on the homestand so far, with an OT loss to the 49ers in week 10 and an embarrassment against the Bengals in week 11, and now trail the Falcons in the division.
Baltimore has won each of the last two meetings with the Saints including a 35-22 tussle at the Superdome in 2006.
(Photo credit: Mike Morbeck (Flickr: Phil, Loadholt, Clay Matthews) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)